Utopia is connected to the idea of a potential perfect society as well as to the invention of collective desire pushed as close as possible to the realm of reality. In the case of the first definition, Yugoslav visions of utopia entered the domain of the real: the will toward a radically different world made possible the creation of a new state and a new social subject, put into effect by the realization of the socialist society.
At the same time, the process of modernization transformed the constructed environment and society at large. The state, through a blend of utopia and pragmatism, also constructed the common desire of the community. Finally, the concept of self-regulated society led by the working class became the engine of the development of urban and rural territories in Yugoslavia, among them Trbovlje – the town that provides the case study for the team of designers and architects. Nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains, Trbovlje, with its coal mining tradition, was one of the first industrialized regions in Slovenia.
The collapse of Yugoslavia and the rise of the ideologies of capitalism and privatization caused the collapse of the industrial model of the factory as a productive platform for wellbeing and social efficiency. Mines closed, leaving behind massive industrial infrastructure, high levels of unemployment, and nostalgia understandably became a social disease. In the absence of any meaningful utopian ideas today, how can design access instances from the past that carry meaning while also avoiding naïve optimism? Instead of imagining an ideal vision for the future, the episode After Utopia examines the present and the hidden realities of the post-industrial town of Trbovlje.